“... A bubbling, bustling melting pot of races and religions where Malays, Indians, Chinese, and many other ethnic groups live together in peace and harmony.”
In this ‘many other ethnic groups’ statement, one of them is the Ibans. The Ibans were the original inhabitants of Borneo Island. Wikipedia reported that there are more than 600,000 Ibans in Sarawak alone. One of the main festivals for the Ibans is the rice harvesting festival Gawai Dayak. (Besides the bird festal Gawai Burong and the spirit festival Gawai Antu) The Gawai Dayak is celebrated every year on the 1st of June, at the end of the harvest season, to worship the Lord Sempulang Gana. (To know more, please Google)
The Ibans were traditionally animists, but today majority are now Christian and some are Muslim. For your information, I’m an Iban and I’m a Christian. There are 2 things that I’m against that I need to share with my readers who celebrate this wonderful and joyful celebration that contradicts our Christian Living.
Please evaluate and examine my thesis before you accept or reject it: [Bear in mind that I'm writing this in a Malaysia context (urban-modern readers), which 'tuak' and smoking are not necessarily helpful; for heating etc. in our climate: warm and humid]
Myth: You are not a real man if you don’t drink tuak or language!
Tuak is a type of wine; it is originally made of rice. Meanwhile, language is a type of alcoholic drink. (Some define it as a similar term) Nowadays, both beverages are served for guests. Both if consume excessively will cause drunkenness. There is nothing wrong with drinking tuak or language, but it must be under control. I love what Goh Keat Peng said when he advised his young listeners in one lecture, “Ask yourself this question before you do something ‘Am I able to control it?’” If you can, go ahead. But I’m sure base on my own experiences, it is much better not to consume it at all.
Habit when it fully developed becomes an addiction. And addiction to alcohol is not cool at all. I’d been there before, my bloodline proves it so. At first, you feel confident, strong, and macho. No one denies that they can be helpful for a while, but over the long haul – it left you immature, insecure, and afflicted by guilt and depression. Now tell me, what is a real man about if he feels insecure, guilt, failure, stress, and immature behavior?
Billy Graham writes, “Why does the Bible so clearly denounce drunkenness? Because it is an enemy of human life. Anything that is against a person’s welfare, God is against.”
Truth: You are a real man if you know how to say ‘no’ to drunkenness!
Myth: Grown up smoke!
Human beings are creatures of habit. Many of our practices become automatic; we are sometimes unaware that we have attained the habit of smoking especially from what we model from our family members really affected us a lot. Living in an Iban culture, I was exposed to smoking since I was a kid. Our mind linked smoking with adulthood. Smoking claims to release tension, a symbol of maturity, independence, and cool.
But is it true? How about the fact that in the long term smoking kills you and others? Maybe I shouldn’t waste my time to outlines the effects of smoking; both you and I know that smoking is a bad habit. Both of us know that they displease God. Both of us know that smoking doesn’t define your maturity. Grown-up… real grown-up, Christian kind of grown-up doesn't do things that displease God.
Truth: Real grown up to understand that smoking [In my judgment, based on our context] is not pleasing to God!
Happy Celebrating Gawai Dayak!
“Gayu Guru Gerai Nyamai”